Almost two weeks ahead of President Obama’s Aug. 31 deadline, the last American combat brigade started to leave Iraq, almost seven and a half years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Their departure marks the end of combat operations in the country and a shift in the “American role in the war from the Pentagon to the State Department, which faces a potentially unprecedented task,” the Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday. The new U.S. mission, Operation New Dawn, takes effect Sept. 1.

About 50,000 U.S. troops will advise and assist Iraqi military and police until December 2011.
“This is not like a light switch, where one day you are doing combat operations and the next day you are doing stability operations,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a news release posted on the Defense Department Web site. “It has been a transition that has taken place gradually over time.”
What do you think about the end of U.S. military’s combat role in Iraq and a shift to a civilian-led effort?
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